But like anything, your mind can fool itself sometimes...
I hope you like my pages about my trainset. It may be "just a toy" but its given my friends and I countless hours of enjoyment, and it beats videogames hands-down. I know, I've been playing video games almost as long as I've played with these trains, and the trains are mos def better. ;)
And it intrigues the hell out of Cats.
P.S. I promise no Cats were harmed in the setup and running of these trainsets, despite what you might read later on.
Not much fun, eh? You get an oval, which is really just a circle with 2 straights. You get the cheapest Engine they've got, and two cheap freight cars.
NOT to a 9 Year Old!
Mom and Dad were quite pleased at how quiet I was during the Christmas holidays in 1969. This set was a joy, and I loved it. Setting it up and taking it down became a thing that made me look forward to the weekend. I had to work and save to get new track and cars for it, and I also learned about the fundamentals of current and conductivity. And, the Cat was scared!
As a young kid, I learned basic electronics and basic programming with this stuff. Maintaining the engines and track taught me how to do fine hand work, and the value of doing it right. I also learned how to "program" the layout with signals, switch and contact track, to allow two trains run around the layout without smashing into each other. Last but not least, I got exposed to many different languages because the manuals for this stuff are always printed in 5 or more languages.
When I came close to throwing it away (as a teenager, stupid me!), my Mother convinced me not to, since she knew better than I. She loved this trainset, and many of the older pieces (including the crane) were bought by her after I had decided that girls were more interesting. ;) So, this website is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Annette Havens.
In 1999 I got addicted to eBay, where I spent far too much money buying a lot of the track & rolling stock you see here. I built a large layout in my living room and had my friend Frank Schifano shoot it on 35mm film (see Photography, on the Misc page). The pictures from that shoot inspired me to start this website.
I still pull out the trains every Christmas, and I just got a pair of sets with Delta decoders and a 6604 control, which lead to the inevitable Computer hookup, where I can run the trains from my laptop. I've also developed some friends in Europe, and whenever I go over there, or they come here, I try to score some more Märklin, usually hard to find items and spare parts. Thanks to Harold Van Aalderen and others I've not only finally lit up a long TEE Express train but I've also gotten my old Borsig Steam Engine to make smoke.
Probably by the time I am 70, I'll have one of those large pikes in the basement and finally decide to cover up the Märklin with scenery.
Most of my stuff is HO Gauge, which means that its smaller than Lionel, but still needs serious floor space to run. As far as the Cat is concerned, this size has good play value, but can be scary. The Engines are smaller than the cat, but bigger than your average mouse. They can be as fast as the cat, they make scary growling sounds, and they smell very strange.
Generally, cats tend to stalk this gauge. The picture on the left is from the marklin-users.net, click on it and check out their Cats On The Layout page.
They creep up, wait, watch, creep up again, wait, watch, and then choose the correct instant to pounce, causing the engine and any cars to smash all over the place. They can also break track as they jump on top of the engine.
Then run away really fast as you jump up and go "Damn you, you Cat!"
But what they are also known for is the quality of their detailing. Recently I took some time to document this with some Macro Photography. Here is an example comparison of a cheap Märklin caboose and a cheap Modelpower caboose:
The Märklin caboose is made of many parts, and has yellow plastic window frames, clear plastic glass in the windows, metal roofs for the main car and cupola, and a detailed black frame under the car. Its based on an actual car, the "Type Pwi No. 0116911 Stgt.". The quality of the plastic castings are different too, look at the ends of the two cabooses:
Take a look at the print on both cars. The Märklin car has much finer printing, and the crispness at that size is incredible. Using a magnifying glass on a Märklin car usually makes people go "Wow, look at that!". The Modelpower print is just boring by comparison.
Both of these cars are considered "Entry Level" models designed for kids. Yes, the Märklin car is a bit more expensive, but I think you can see what you're paying for.
Oh, if you are a Cat, this gauge represents the ultimate in play value -- you are bigger than the trains, they move fast but not fast enough, and they are easily chomped on and can be batted around by your paws!
Here is another example of printing detail. This is my model of the Baker's Chocolate tank car. This car has sat on top of one of my computers for over 6 years, and its been knocked off from time to time. It even ended up in the office trash once, although we found it (grrr!). After washing it, I decided to try my hand at revealing some of the print on it.
The car is not even 2 inches long. Look at the printing under the black rail that runs along the middle of the car. Notice the block of print on the right end, I've added an arrow pointing up to it.
Now, there may be American manufacturers who make stuff this detailed, but I haven't found them yet. Neither I nor my friends have ever been able to read that, even when using a Magnifying glass. Its only when I used Super Macro mode on an Olympus Digital Camera that I finally was able to see it.
Set consists of 3 models of the class 03 express locomotive with tender. One each model in a version with the locomotive and tender body made of solid 18 carat gold, sterling silver, and solid bronze. 3 cut diamonds shine as triple headlights on each locomotive. 3 rubies serve to represent the marker lights on each tender. The locomotives are fully functional and are equipped with a 5-pole motor. All of the driving axles are powered. All of the wheels are gold plated. The wheels on the locomotives feature black spokes. The side rods, drive rods, and crosshead guides are gold plated and inlaid with black. All 3 locomotives in this set are provided with consecutive numbering and thereby make each set unique and unmistakable. These exclusive decorative pieces are protected in a high quality case. White gloves are included to protect the locomotives. A numbered certificate confirms the authenticity of this unique edition. The length over the buffers for each locomotive is 112 mm / 4-7/16’’. This steam locomotive edition is being produced in a one-time series and only on order in 2004. The extremely expensive process for the manufacture of this edition is reflected in the strictly limited run.
Maybe we should keep the Cat away from that, eh?